Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hey, Gary Carter, we're pulling for you, Kid!


As the 2011 All-Star Game approaches, I hope baseball fans will take some time to think of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter.  Canadians will always have fond memories of Gary's years with the Montreal Expos.  He captured the hearts of the fans during his 12 seasons in the city.  How could Montrealers resist a guy with such an infectious smile, a guy who was nicknamed The Kid? 

Born in Culver City, California on April 8, 1954. Gary was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the third round of the 1972 amateur draft.  He made his first appearance behind the plate for the Expos on September 16. 1974 and quickly tried to establish himself as part of the community.  In 1975, Gary married his wife Sandy and, during his early years with the Expos, the couple lived in Montreal.  "Le Kid" endeared himself to Montrealers by taking French lessons and making a strong effort to learn the language.

Although Gary Carter spent the majority of his career as a Montreal Expo, he also made his mark in New York City.  Prior to the 1985 season, the Expos traded him to the New York Mets.  He played for five seasons in the Big Apple and has a World Series ring to show for it.  He was one of the stars of the Mets' 1986 championship team. 

Gary reached a milestone in his career on August 11, 1988.  After a 225 at-bat home run drought, he finall slugged his 300th homer to lead the Mets to a 9-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.  He left New York after the 1989 season and spent 1990 with the San Francisco Giants and 1991 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

At the end of the 1991 season, the Expos selected Carter off waivers from the  Dodgers.  He returned to Montreal and finished out his career there. Gary Carter played his final major league game on September 27, 1992. The Expos retired his Number 8 uniform on July 31, 1993.  In 2003, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown with a Montreal Expos cap.

In May of this year, Gary, 57, was discovered to have four small tumours in his brain.  He was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer.  Carter's daughter, Kimmy Bloemers, wrote on the family's website: "Dad's tumor is not operable as it like a snake of tumors that are connected across the back of the brain.  The biggest tumor is on the left side of the brain." 

Gary is receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments at home in Florida.  A special Facebook page has been set up where baseball fans can leave messages of support and encouragement for him and his family during this horribly difficult time.  If you would like to leave Gary a message, just click on the link below.


* If you want to know why Gary Carter is so popular in Canada, just read the words he wrote about this country in his tribute to Canada's hero, Terry Fox.

Terry Fox's run was one of the greatest examples of this dedication and faith I have every seen.  His effort rates as the ultimate of any athletic endeavour.  He characterized all the things that make a person a great athlete and a great human being.  This is but one image of Canadians that I have had as an American playing baseball in Canada.  I also admire the honesty and friendliness of the people.  I have had the opportunity of visiting many parts of Canada.  Each area has its own strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes one part of Canada may see itself as being better or worse off than another.

But as an outsider, I have had the opportunity to see how as one country Canada can take all its talents and work to become one of the greatest places to live in the world. 

- Gary Carter
From My Canada, edited by Glenn Keith Cowan

* Gary and Sandy Carter are the parents of three children - Christy, Kimmy and D.J., and three grandchildren.  They are residents of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. 

* After the news of Gary Carter's illness, a video board at a game between the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field in Queens, New York played a highlight reel of Carter's career iin New York.  The video was followed by a message that read, "Our thoughts are with you Gary.  From your millions of fans and the New York Mets."

Our thoughts and prayers are indeed with you, Gary Carter.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Sadly, Gary Carter passed away on February 16, 2012 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  He was 57 years old.  Rest in peace, Kid.


Congratulations to Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays for being selected to the American League All-Star team.  Jose received a record number of 7,454,753 fan votes.  Now that's impressive!

- Joanne